Mandarin Oriental Marrakech Pool Villa

The latest Marrakech hotels have become synonymous with a kind of decorative maximalism, so the new Mandarin Oriental Marrakech, which channels an airy serenity, is a welcome antidote to the city's sensual overload. Eleven Oriental Pool Villas combine the Asian brand's signature understated elegance with some serious wow factor. Inspired by kasbah architecture, each 4,547sq ft (423sq metre) villa is reached via a path through verdant gardens sprinkled with roses and olive trees. Giant, studded wooden doors open on to a courtyard and a sleek black swimming pool, around which is space for dining, lounging or cartwheeling (high walls and an outdoor shower create an anything-goes vibe). Floor-to-ceiling glass doors allow enormous living, sleeping (it has room for five) and bathing areas to open to the elements. You could vault straight from the oversized bed platform into the Jacuzzi, or enjoy birdsong and the odd distant donkey honk from the sofa. The style: Plush neutrals and tactile touches are themes within the understated, low-level architecture, designed to maximise the Atlas views. Pale stone floors have cream-and-black Beni Ouarain carpets and walls are mostly unadorned apart from traditional Berber motifs. Slatted wooden blinds and a high-tech music and TV system nod to the brand's Asian heritage but otherwise this feels like a vision of modern Morocco. Local details include a mint-tea-making set on modish concrete counters in the kitchenette, and hand-woven Berber-style cushions which, handily, appear in the hotel shop. The hotel: Not a place with entertainment on tap and a long list of activities. Rather, it's a place of tranquil respite, enhanced by unobtrusive staff and its setting round a shallow pool tickled by weeping willows. There's a relaxed Pool Garden restaurant, a fine-dining spot helmed by famed Moroccan chef Meryem Cherkaoui and a spa whose rooms billow with muslin.